War of the Century (1999)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Documentary, History, War
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 281 users  
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Documentary examining Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

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Cast

Credited cast:
John Erickson ...
 Himself - Historical consultant
Stephen Walsh ...
 Himself - Historical consultant
...
 Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

In 1941, Nazi Germany, seemingly near invincible in its military might despite its failure to break the UK in the Battle of Britain, makes one of its most disastrous military moves. Despite the danger of a two front war and the existence of a non-aggression pact, Hitler orders the full scale invasion of the Soviet Union. This series explores the reasons for this undertaking, its vicious nature on both sides and the general series of events of the bloodiest theater of the war that would ultimately turn the tide in the fight against the Third Reich. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Release Date:

2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O teleftaios megalos polemos  »

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Runtime:

(4 episodes) | (3 episodes)
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User Reviews

 
Extraordinary film of an extraordinarily cruel war
18 August 2006 | by (canada) – See all my reviews

This is a remarkable achievement (originally, four 50 minute episodes, but presented here as a 200 minute continuous whole on the DVD), unique in its content, style, and focus.

Some will say, 'I've seen this type of thing before - grainy black & white footage, while an erudite British voice intones in the background'. Or, 'more "war and Nazis"?; how many of these can the history channel show?' In fact, this film is unique. Anyone with the slightest interest in the second world war should consider it a 'must see'.

For the uninitiated, it provides a comprehensive and stirring presentation of what is arguably the most important battle of the most important war of the 20th, and possibly, any, century. For those more familiar with World War II and its history, stories, and tragedy, this documentary fills in a huge hole. A hole that has been present in virtually every non-Soviet-produced film of its kind - the hole that is the battle on the Eastern Front. This production, especially by its frequent and masterful use of archival footage and its inclusion of first-person accounts by the victors (Soviets), the vanquished (Germans), and the eternally oppressed (the innocent civilians of all stripes), has filled the gap.

Here, one is spared nothing. The atrocities are graphically presented (13 million Soviet civilians died, and millions more of its soldiers perished as well). But the inclusion of such horrors is not just for shock value (as shocking it is). No, the viewer is considered sophisticated and interested enough to be informed of the more fundamental reasons for the slaughter.

The enormity of the atrocities notwithstanding, the film also details and chronicles the more "usual" battles of the campaign. And here, it has few rivals - comprehensive, endowed with multiple first-person accounts (some disarmingly non-contrite), and an impressive amount of (what I presume to be) previously unseen color footage. The net effect is to convey to the viewer a picture, and a lesson, which few, if any, other documentaries of its kind are able.

This is a remarkable film. If you have even the slightest curiosity about the "war in the east", get it. You will not be disappointed.


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